The Newly Amended Holmes Youthful Trainee Act - HYTA
The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, commonly referred to as HYTA, is a Michigan law which was designed to give young criminal offenders a second chance. HYTA, which was originally enacted in 1966, currently applies to criminal defendants between the ages of 17 and 21. (A recent amendment of the law which will become effective August 18, 2015 extends eligibility to age 24.) HYTA gives the judge, upon entry of a plea of guilty, to assign the defendant to “youthful trainee status.” In most cases, this means that the defendant is placed on probation for a period of years and, upon successful completion of probation, the crime pled guilty to is removed from the defendants record. However, a HYTA traineee who pled guilty to a crime punishable by more than one year may be sent to prison for up to three years for “custodial supervision and training” or committed to county jail for not more than a year. Defendants charged with crimes which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, major drug crimes and certain sex offenses are not eligible for HYTA. Defendants previously convicted of a sex offense which requires registration are also not eligible.
HYTA is a good law which gives many young offenders a second chance. However, there has been some recent criticism. The primary complaint is that the court's are sending an increasing number of HYTA trainees to prison. The number of HYTA trainees sent to prison as increased 10 times since 2003. In addition to the increased rate of incarceration, many criticize the law and the MDOC because young HYTA trainees are imprisoned in the same facilities and the same manner as any other convicted criminal sent to prison which puts them at high risk for sexual assault. A current class action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections brought by young prisoners, some of them on HYTA status, alleges that the MDOC did not do enough to protect the young prisoners from rape.
HYTA is a good law and the recent amendment extending the age of eligibility is a sensible improvement. However, the placement of juvenile HYTA trainees in adult prisons goes against the core purpose and intent of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.
If you are charged with a crime committed when you were under the age of 24 and would like to seek HYTA status please contact me today for a free initial phone consultation.